Submitted by Carol J. Smith, Chairman
Research of rare, threatened and endangered terrestrial plants in Maine can be a frustrating task. I found varying information in different web searches. For instance, I found two wonderful websites; one from the State of Maine and one from the United States Department of Agriculture. These lists are long but in comparing them, do not have all of the same information.
The 9-page list that the State of Maine publishes can be found at:
The USDA’s 10-page list can be found at:
The New England Regional Garden Club lists only these plants as being endangered in New England:
Bulrush, Northeastern, ( Scirpus ancistrochaetus)
Cinquefoil, Robbins’, (Potentilla robbinsiana)
Gerardia, sandplain, (Agalinis acuta)
Lousewort, Furbish, (Pedicularis furbishiae)
Milk-vetch, Jesup’s, (Astragalus robbinsii jesupi)
If you check both the Maine list and the USDA list, only Furbish’s Lousewort (Pedicularis furbishiae) and Robbin’s Milk-vetch (Astragalus robbinsii jesupi) are on both lists.
I researched these two plants.
Furbish’s Lousewort Pedicularis furbishiae
This rare plant has been documented in 12 towns in Aroostook County. Furbish's lousewort is unique among louseworts because of its yellow flower with a 5-lobed calyx. It has fern-like leaves, occurring in a basal rosette and continuing up the stem. Flowers are cylindrical racemes of tubular yellow flowers, each flora about 1 cm long. The racemes elongate as the flowers develop into fruits. It flowers mid-July to August.
It is ranked in the State as imperiled in Maine because of rarity or because of other factors making it vulnerable to further decline. Rarity generally means it can only be found in 6-20 occurrences or few remaining individuals or acres. It is ranked the same globally because of the same indications.
The State of Maine considers this plant endangered.
Robbin’s (Jesup’s) Milk-Vetch Astragalus robbinsii jesupi
This plant, of the bean family fabaceae, has been found in 3 towns in Arrostook and Oxford Counties. Its habitat is local on dry calcareous ledge along rivers or on calcareous cliffs and talus in the mountains.
This plant is ranked as critically imperiled in Maine because of extreme rarity - five or fewer occurrences or very few remaining individuals or acres - or because some aspect of its biology makes it especially vulnerable to extirpation from the State of Maine. The State of Maine has special concern for this plant., Globally, it is considered threatened.
Of course one could say that any native plant is in peril because of non-native invasive plants in our State. Please refer to the page on Invasive Plants in Maine for more information on this subject. And always remember to leave a wildflower where you found it so that others may enjoy its beauty.
Photos courtesy of www.plants.usda.gov